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Best for Vets: Employers 2014

Top companies that want to hire you

Apr. 14, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
USAA veteran employees, from left, Charles A. Lane, Richard F. Katona, Jacqueline Vilches, Mary Theresa Perez and John DuQue IV.
USAA veteran employees, from left, Charles A. Lane, Richard F. Katona, Jacqueline Vilches, Mary Theresa Perez and John DuQue IV. (Courtesy of USAA)
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CACI employee veterans, from left, Denyse Gordon, Cliff Colley, Larry Clifton, Joshua Tredinnick and Eric Bartch. (Rob Curtis/Staff)
Machinist and Army veteran Angelo Rocha works in Union Pacific's Fort Worth, Texas, machine shop. (Courtesy of Union Pacific)

Troops transitioning out of the military often worry that the jobs they did in uniform will be irrelevant to the jobs they want out of uniform.

They’re often wrong.

“We’ve seen that 85 percent of military jobs have a direct civilian counterpart at Verizon,” said Evan Guzman, the company’s head of military programs and veteran affairs. “Even if you were a cook in the Army, let’s say, you know a lot of these cooks are good at handling generators.”

Such skills are in high demand at Verizon, Guzman said, as are those associated with information technology, logistics, project management, engineering, construction, human resources and public relations — skills that cover a broad range of military jobs.

“There isn’t a position within the military that we can’t find a place for in Verizon,” Guzman said.

Verizon landed the No. 2 spot in the 2014 version of our Best for Vets: Employers rankings. USAA took the top spot for the third consecutive year, with CACI International Inc., BAE Systems Inc. and Union Pacific rounding out the top five.

More companies than ever completed this year’s survey. All but one told us they’re hiring right now, and that one company plans to start hiring within the next 12 months.

Veterans and reservists made up about 13 percent, on average, of the total workforce of companies responding to our survey and accounted for about 16 percent of their 2013 hires.

Companies told us they dedicated an average of more than one-fifth of their recruiting budget specifically to military recruiting. More than four out of five have at least one military recruiter. About 95 percent attend military-specific job fairs, and those companies went to an average of 36 such events in 2013.

On the other hand, fewer than one in 10 offer credit toward retirement for military service. About 23 percent have a slight veterans hiring preference; fewer than 16 percent have a significant hiring preference.

Only half allow transfer to another company branch for a military spouse whose husband is reassigned to another base, while one-third allow spouses to work off-site.

USAA offers both options.

“USAA has been doing military vet hiring for many, many years. This is not something that is new to us — it is part of our DNA,” said Jackie Purdy, assistant vice president for talent acquisition. “We do not forget the military spouse.”

To that end, the company is piloting a program to hire and then train a class full of military spouses to work from home as customer service representatives.

That way, Purdy added, wherever the husband or wife may end up assigned, “the military spouse continues to be gainfully employed.”

Eric Bartch, who works on veterans issues for CACI, said his company views hiring veterans as a “quadruple win” that helps not just the vet but also the company, the customers and the community.

Rather than just waiting for vet applicants, CACI goes out and finds them, scouring jobs sites for qualified candidates with military experience and reaching out to them directly, he said.

Those who do apply receive individual help from the company’s military team, which will help vets customize their résumés for a particular position and then personally “walk it over to the recruiter” at the company.

But building a big veteran workforce takes more than recruiting.

“Recruiting is very important, obviously, to attract the applicants, but we also feel that retaining our veteran employees is just as important,” said Terry Huntington, director of recruiting at Union Pacific.

Huntginton’s company connects new vet hires to other veterans who have worked in the company longer and can serve as mentors. This helps ensure that the vets who get hired stay with the company, he said.

“We’d love to be able to increase our percentages,” Huntington said.

Of Union Pacific’s 3,000 hires last year, 849 were military.

“We just can’t hire enough military folks.”

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